First Barnes & Noble Concept Store’s Grand Opening

You've got to see this place.

December 2, 2016

As I took the escalator down into the Danish-modern (and bright and airy) new Barnes & Noble concept store in Scarsdale the other day, I had one thought: This is not your run-of-the-mill corporate book shop. Stop for a latte at the chic white-tiled circular cafe. Or grab a glass of wine. Or a craft beer. Open your laptop at the long, wooden communal table; each seat has an individual plug. Or sink into one of the navy leather loungers positioned near rows of hanging succulent plants and catch up with a friend.

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Whatever you do, plan to kick back and relax. And eat. Kitchen, the full-service restaurant adjacent to the cafe, offers the same menu from 11am to 10pm daily (11pm on Friday and Saturday). Think: guacamole as an app, chopped vegetable salad to share, and then either the mushroom ragu with polenta, brisket burger, or brick chicken for dinner. (The brisket burger was dressed with a spicy aioli that had my husband and I fighting over the final few bites; the meatballs on the polenta, however, were like hockey pucks).

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The burrata is flown in from Florence daily; the staff picks it up at JFK. For $10, kids can order grilled cheese, chicken tenders or spaghetti and meatballs; instead of crayons, they’re handed Etch-a-Sketches. On a sunny day, the tables in Kitchen bask in natural light, thanks to expansive floor-to-ceiling windows that create a wall of windows overlooking a stone patio with fire pit. It’s lit nightly at dark.

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Oh right. This is a bookstore. Yes, there are books. Artfully arranged on gray-toned shelves, the cookbook section alone had me swooning — and I’m a fiction lover. The children’s section is teeming with finds: Teens get their own section of novels, and there are shelves and shelves of books for middle readers. Little ones will love the Lego table; the picture book selection, while smallish compared to other large bookstores, is well-edited with both classics and new, trendy titles.

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Today, Friday, Dec. 2, is the official grand opening, and at 10am, visitors can be part of the celebration with balloon artists, bocce ball demonstrations, live music and face painting. At 10:30am, kids can meet storybook character, Biscuit, local author Alyssa Capucilli’s lovable fictional yellow dog, who is the star of her popular series. At 11am, she’ll be on hand to read.  Best of all, tonight at 7pm, kids are invited in to the store in their pajamas for a Polar Express Pajama Storytime; coloring and activities to follow the story, including letters to Santa. Click here for their full list of events.

Barnes and Noble, Vernon Hills Shopping Center, 680 Post Road, Scarsdale

Style Crush: Style Reform Activewear

Launched by a Westchester Mom, you'll live in this line of personalized leggings and t-shirts

November 30, 2016

Meet Style Reform Activewear: Ultra comfortable leggings with amazing designs and fit, that are responsibly made and don’t break the bank. Style Reform leggings are the answer to days spent running from the gym to the office to after-school pick-up while looking chic and feeling great.

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Created by a Westchester Mom, Style Reform Leggings feel amazing and look even better. The fit is incredible with a rise just high enough that there’s no muffin top issues and a length that works for all heights (ankle skimming for me and I’m 5’5.) The designs are super cute and the best part is the subtle monogram you can customize on the back of the right leg in fun colors like metallic gold and hot pink. The medium squeeze leggings feel like a dream running errands and at the gym, and I’m excited to try the maximum squeeze for more high-intensity workouts. The super soft t-shirts are awesome too – a classic silhouette with a raw-edge v-neck that will become a wardrobe staple.

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Style Reform Activewear is produced at a Peruvian factory that is WRAP-certified, which is one of the highest socially responsible compliances a factory can receive, so you can feel good about their eco-friendly practices too. As founder, Christy Teloh, says, “You can have amazing quality, beautifully designed, and technically cool activewear that looks and feels super luxe, without prices that make you want to shed a little tear.”

Style Reform Activewear makes a great gift too! Wee Westchester readers will get 10% off with code weewestchester at check-out. Happy shopping! 

It’s become a holiday tradition for us to visit New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show each year. If you’ve never been, the incredible display, running through Jan. 16, has something for everyone. The kids adore the G-scale model trains looping around buildings, chugging across bridges and popping out of tunnels, while the grownups marvel at the exquisite details of the New York City landmarks on display in miniature, all made from plants, sticks and stones. If you’ve ever tried to landscape your backyard, you’ll definitely appreciate the amount of work it took to set all this up!

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New this year, the 25th anniversary, are more trains than ever (back again are Thomas and his friends), an added NYC bridge (the Queensboro), and a charming display of Coney Island, including the Cyclone and a brightly lit and spinning Wonder Wheel.

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Tickets are pricey, ranging from $10 to $18 per child over 2 and $20 to $30 per adult, but no one can argue that a ton of work goes into the display each year. Definitely get your timed tickets in advance. Admission also includes access to the beautiful grounds (holiday card photo ops abound) and the Adventure Garden, where kids can participate in quality arts and crafts projects such as making balsam fir sachets and bird feeders.

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We always go on a weekday to avoid the crowds — there were only about a dozen other visitors with us when we went last Tuesday — but do note that the Gingerbread Café next door, where you can pick up food truck fare and other snacks, is only open on the weekends. Dress in layers, as it’ll no doubt be chilly outside, but downright tropical indoors.

NYBG Holiday Train Show, 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx; 718-817-8700

With my sister and her family now living in St. Augustine, Florida, we’re at the beach for the week — and I’m feeling extra lucky to be in warm weather for turkey day. I’m usually slaving over make-ahead sides on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, with all of my family lurking around trying to sneak a taste. But today, my husband, the kids and I took to the beach and got some much needed family playtime. (Here is one of my fave pics!)

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There’s something to be said for letting someone else cook on such a big holiday. Tomorrow we’re headed to the pool. Ahem, before we eat. Of course, after that, no one would want to be seen in a bathing suit.

We were at Disney World earlier in the week, and I’ve got some tips for all of you other newbies out there planning a vacation there. Check the site next week for my five epic Disney fails so you don’t make the same mistakes as we did. xo

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

3 No-Fail (Make Ahead!) Thanksgiving Sides

Feel like you're missing one last side dish? Make these the day before.

November 22, 2016

Editor’s note: We’re bringing back this popular post just in time for the big meal. Happy Thanksgiving!

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is like running a three ring circus. Last year, I had to kick everyone out of the kitchen an hour before the turkey was done, just so I could focus on getting my creamed spinach, honey glazed carrots, mashed rutabagas, creamed onions (and more) off the stove and on to the table.

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Here’s a little Thanksgiving secret: It’s okay to make a few sides the day before and reheat them. While you don’t want your mashed potatoes to sit and you shouldn’t roast your brussel sprouts the day before, some dishes keep happily overnight. Here are three make-ahead sides that are easy, last-minute additions to your Thanksgiving feast.

Honey Glazed Carrots
I’ve been making these Martha Stewart honey carrots for a few years now. They’re incredibly simple — they take about 20 minutes from prep to finish. And they keep in a Tupperware perfectly. I don’t bother chopping my carrots; I substitute a bag of baby carrots.

What You’ll Need:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower
2 pounds carrots, cut into 1-inch lengths, halved if thick
1 cup canned reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions:

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add carrots; cook, stirring once, until beginning to brown, 2 minutes.

2. Add broth, honey, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until crisp-tender, 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook over medium-high until carrots are tender and liquid is syrupy, 7 to 9 minutes more (there should be only a small amount of liquid remaining).

Get the entire honey glazed carrots recipe.

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Creamed Spinach
Elizabeth started making this to have an extra “green” at Thanksgiving, although it’s not exactly low calorie. The first time she made it as a novice newlywed cook, she lived in the city and her tiny kitchen was covered in spinach! Still, it’s one of her make-ahead Thanksgiving best.

What You’ll Need:

4 pounds spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 onion (12 oz.), peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese

Directions:

1. Fill a 6- to 8-quart pan over high heat with spinach and turn frequently with a wide spatula; add more spinach as leaves wilt and shrink. When all the spinach is added and wilted, in 8 to 10 minutes, cook and stir leaves about 1 minute longer. Pour spinach into a colander to drain. Rinse and dry pan.

2. Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion; stir often until limp, about 5 minutes. Add flour, nutmeg, and thyme. Stir until flour is golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in broth, cream, and salt until mixture is smooth. Return to heat; stir until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring often, to blend flavors, 5 minutes.

Get the entire creamed spinach recipe.

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Fresh Cranberry Sauce
No one should be making their cranberry sauce the day of Thanksgiving. It keeps perfectly in the fridge, and tastes great when it’s scooped on to plates the following day. Here’s the recipe I use from the Food Network:

What You’ll Need:

1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup of sugar
1 strip of orange zest

Directions: 

Empty a 12-ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries into a saucepan and transfer 1/2 cup to a small bowl. Add 1 cup sugar, 1 strip orange or lemon zest and 2 tablespoons water to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries burst, about 12 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the reserved cranberries. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste and cool to room temperature before serving.

Get the entire cranberry sauce recipe.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. We get to see our extended family and eat good food, and no one’s worrying about gifts just yet. It’s also an ideal time of year to teach kids about donating their time and things to help those who have less. But if you’ve got young children who aren’t ready for working at a soup kitchen yet, where does that leave you? Here are some ideas that may be a bit more age-appropriate.

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Food Bank for Westchester
Did you know that the Food Bank for Westchester is located in Elmsford, right in that complex where BounceU and The Play Place are? The next time your kids have a birthday or class in the area, take them to the Food Bank first to drop off the excess non-perishable foods you find in your pantry as you clear the decks for Thanksgiving. Or pick up some extra stuffing or canned gravy for the food bank’s Thanksgiving food drive while shopping this week. If you’ve got kids over the age of 7, they can also volunteer to repack food and wrap gifts throughout the holiday season.

Family-to-Family
This Hastings-on-Hudson organization runs a great give-back program called Stuff a Turkey, Stuff a Shirt, where you ask your Thanksgiving dinner guests to bring a small toiletry item to donate to homeless families living at a shelter. You can have your kids be in charge of this project, collecting the items from the guests as they arrive and organizing them.

Toys For Tots
Young kids should be feeling thankful about their families and friends, but let’s face it: What they’re really thankful for at this age are their toys. Which is why it’s particularly meaningful to them to pick out a new toy at the store to donate to another child for the holidays. Toys For Tots has drop-off locations all over Westchester.

For other kid-friendly volunteering opportunities this holiday season, including some DIY projects like Blizzard Boxes and Sock Bundles, check out Volunteer New York’s extensive list of suggestions.

Worth the Splurge: Wrinkle Reducing Facial

Add Oasis Day Spa's new treatment to your wishlist.

November 18, 2016

The minute a chill hits in the air, my skin reacts and I start fighting a dry and dull complexion that usually lasts until May. So when I was invited to try out the Elemis Biotec Facial at Oasis Day Spa, I couldn’t refuse. If you haven’t been to Oasis Day Spa, it’s right off the Saw Mill River Parkway in an unassuming shopping mall in Dobbs Ferry. Don’t be fooled by the exterior — it’s a luxury spa with amazing treatments, right on par with its sister spas in NYC.

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There are three types of Elemis Biotec facials offered at Oasis: the Line Eraser, which targets wrinkles and energizes the skin using micro-current pulses and red and blue light therapy; the Skin Resurfacer, which addresses skin tone, blemishes and fine lines using an ultrasonic peel, massage and light therapy; and the Firm-A-Lift Facial, which uses a mix of micro-currents, massage and “sculpting galvanic technology” to visibly strengthen and lift your complexion.

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I had the pleasure of experiencing the Line Eraser facial, which was one of the must indulgent facials I’ve ever had. Not only did it feel amazing thanks to my aesthetician, Rebecca, but it left my skin looking radiant and healthy, and the fine lines around my eyes and forehead seemed less noticeable (for that day anyway!). The Elemis product line is incredible, and I even bought the Elemis Lime Blossom Balancing Cleanser on my way out, per Rebecca’s suggestion. (Side note: I’ve been using it for almost 3 weeks and it’s amazing.)

At $36, the cleanser was a no-brainer, but the facial is quite pricey at $250. Add it to your wishlist for a super-indulgent treat.

Oasis Day Spa, 50 Livingstone Ave, Dobbs Ferry; 914-409-1900

Tick Bites Aren’t Just a Summertime Threat

How to protect yourself and what to do if your kid gets one.

November 16, 2016

This post was brought to you by the Scarsdale Medical Group

After spending a few beautiful fall weekends outdoors, a friend noticed a rash shaped like a bull’s-eye on her 5-year-old son’s leg. She never saw the tick, just the rash, and quickly called her doctor and got her son on antibiotics. Who knew ticks were something we had to worry about this time of year?

“Although the incidence of Lyme disease is lowest during the coldest months, ticks that carry Lyme disease are out all year long, so we should still be still concerned about them, especially on winter hikes through the woods or tall grass.” says Dr. Marvin Lipman of Scarsdale Medical Group. “The protection we get from wearing winter clothing likely accounts for the low incidence of tick bites during the winter.” 

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Below, Dr. Lipman answers our tick and Lyme disease related questions.

Besides wearing long, light-colored pants and long-sleeved shirts, what can we do to protect ourselves and our kids from tick bites?

Be sure those long pants are tucked into your socks to prevent ticks from crawling up your legs. Spray outer clothing and exposed skin with 20 to 30 percent DEET. Avoid use of tick repellents on infants under the age of 2 months.

Inspect your child’s skin for the presence of ticks as soon as possible after coming in from a potentially infested area, or when undressing him or her for bed. Note that a tick may be as small as a poppy seed, so search carefully.

I’ve found a tick on my child. What is the proper way to remove it and how should I dispose of the tick? Should I call my doctor?

Using fine-pointed tweezers, grasp the tick at its head and gently pull it off the skin. Try not to squeeze the tick. If the head is left embedded, don’t worry — it will fall off eventually. Swab the wound with 70 percent alcohol, and deposit the tick in a small jar for future identification if necessary. Call your doctor if the tick is identified as a deer tick or if the wound becomes infected or if a rash develops at the site resembling a bull’s eye with alternating red and white ring-like areas.

What symptoms are associated with a tick that carries Lyme disease, and what is the time frame for symptoms to appear?

Tick bites are painless and often go unnoticed. That typical bull’s-eye rash will appear in only 70 percent of cases and can take up to three weeks or so to develop. Within two to four weeks of the bite, other signs might develop, such as flu-like symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, chills, a generalized rash, or swelling and tenderness of a joint, usually the knee. Rarer manifestations include facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy), nerve inflammation, or heart involvement.

I found a bull’s-eye shaped bug bite on my kid’s leg, but there’s no tick on it. Is it possible the tick fell off? Should I still call my doctor?

The tick can fall off after feeding or sometimes no actual insect bite is detected. Nonetheless, the presence of a bull’s-eye rash is evidence enough that your child has Lyme disease. No further tests are necessary and treatment should start immediately.

Is Lyme disease curable in children?

Yes. Lyme disease is curable in kids. The earlier treatment is given, the better the chances are for a cure. That’s why only the mere suspicion of Lyme merits a call to the doctor.

Who should be treated for Lyme disease?

In heavily infested areas such as Westchester and Fairfield counties — especially during the summer months — any person with an engorged deer tick affixed more than 48 hours deserves appropriate antibiotic treatment. In the absence of a tick bite and the telltale bull’s-eye rash, treatment will depend on a history of possible exposure, symptoms and suitable laboratory tests.

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Marvin M. Lipman, MD, FACP, FACE is one of the original members of the Scarsdale Medical Group. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology. Dr. Lipman is section chief (emeritus) of medicine at White Plains Hospital and was chief of the endocrine sections at both White Plains Hospital and Westchester Medical Center. He is clinical professor of medicine (emeritus) at New York Medical College in Valhalla. Dr. Lipman has been the chief medical adviser to Consumers Reports since 1967 and is the medical editor of their monthly newsletter, Consumer Reports on Health. He is a strong advocate for patients’ rights and drug safety and encourages his patients to participate actively in their healthcare.

The provision of high-quality, personalized health care to Westchester County and New York’s Hudson Valley region has been the mission of the Scarsdale Medical Group for more than 50 years. Their working philosophy of compassion, confidence, and commitment has enabled them to become known and respected by patients and peers throughout the tri-state area.

Scarsdale Medical Group, 259 Heathcote Road, Scarsdale; 914-723-8100

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Sponsored Post: Auto Insurance Tips from Advocate Brokerage

A high performance vehicle deserves high performance coverage

November 15, 2016

Auto insurance is something we all have to think about. Many policy holders assume all auto insurance policies are created equal, and as a result, they are unwilling to pay for a more expensive policy. However, if you have a high-performance vehicle, it makes no sense to take a chance on coverage.  The savings aren’t worth the lack of coverage, according to the experts at Advocate Brokerage

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If you drive a high-performance vehicle, you should consider:

  • You want your car repaired by someone you trust. Some carriers require you go to a network shop that may lack the expertise or certifications to properly complete the job. If you choose to go out of network, you may be charged more.
  • A premier carrier is important when it comes to total loss consideration of a high-performance vehicle. They will often consider a vehicle as a total loss much earlier than a standard auto insurance company.  
  • A standard policy may not provide adequate coverage for the use of a rental vehicle while your car is being repaired. Rental car coverage for loss of use under a standard policy is in the $1K range, while a policy with a premier carrier would be in the $15K range.
  • Premier carriers send someone out to do a re-inspection of the vehicle after the repairs have been completed. For a high-performance automobile owner, this is a welcome thing.

Let the insurance specialists at Advocate Brokerage prepare you for the road ahead!

Advocate Brokerage, 820 Scarsdale Ave., Scarsdale; 914-723-7100

 

If you’ve got a train lover in the family, there are many ways to nurture that love around here. You could go train spotting in Westchester. Check out the always impressive holiday train show opening this weekend at the New York Botanical Garden. Take a ride on Metro-North. Or visit the really cool New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn.

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We did the latter while heading out to see some friends in Brooklyn. Finding the museum is an adventure in itself — it’s housed underground, in a decommissioned subway station. Access it by going down the stairs of the subway entrance on the corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, then purchase the tickets from the token booth downstairs.

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The museum is just perfect for small children because you can touch just about everything. It features actual subway cars through the years, dating back to 1908, as well as exhibits on tokens, turnstiles and other transit artifacts. It was a kick for me to be in the “vintage” rail car that I remember riding in as a kid!

There’s a nice collection of New York buses through the ages, as well. My kids’ favorite part of the visit was getting to “drive” these buses.

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Like real subway stations, this one is exposed to the heat and cold. It was chilly outside on the day we went, and not much better underground, so I would suggest bundling up the kids if you’re planning a visit this winter.

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If you’re hungry afterwards, there’s a Shake Shack and a Hill Country BBQ about a three-minute walk away. Good luck with the wait for a table, though — you’re not in Westchester anymore!

New York Transit Museum, Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn; 718-694-1600

Feeling lost in the post-election slump (aka deep depression), Westchester mom Margot Gerster decided to take her daughter for a hike in the woods near her home in Chappaqua. That’s when she spotted Secretary Clinton hiking with Bill and their dogs.

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According to a story on Mashable.com, Gerster says: “I heard a bit of rustling coming towards me and as I stepped into the clearing there she was, Hillary Clinton and Bill with their dogs doing exactly the same thing as I was. I got to hug her and talk to her and tell her that one of my most proudest moments as a mother was taking Phoebe with me to vote for her. She hugged me and thanked me and we exchanged some sweet pleasantries and then I let them continue their walk.”

Perhaps we should all head to the woods this weekend. Connecting with nature is sometimes the only way to make peace with life’s most devastating blows. And considering two-thirds of Westchester voters cast ballots for Clinton, there are quite a few of us who are still reeling from Tuesday’s news. But here’s the real take-away here: After what happened, if Hillary can still get up, go for a hike with her husband and show a complete stranger nothing but grace, she is an inspiration to all of us. As a mother. As a woman. As an American.

Sponsored Post: Santa is back at Ridge Hill!

Book your spot now to meet Santa with the Kung Fu Panda crew

November 11, 2016

The fantastical DreamWorks holiday attraction, Adventure to Santa, is back at Ridge Hill with the gang from Kung Fu Panda!

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This year’s attraction combines the time-honored tradition of meeting Santa Claus with technological wizardry for an immersive holiday experience that takes guests to the North Pole. This season, guests will join Po and friends from Kung Fu Panda for interactive fun while en route to visit the big man!

Adventure to Santa is located in Ridge Hill’s Town Square, between The Cheesecake Factory and Angelo’s Family Style Italian on Market Street. Tickets prices range from $35 to $75 per family, and advance registration is strongly recommended.

For tickets and more information, please visit www.dreamplaceexperience.com/locations/view/ridgehill/

Ridge Hill, 1 Ridge Hill, Yonkers.

 

Teatown Hiking and Fall Foliage

November 8, 2016

We’ve been on a hiking kick. With winter approaching, I feel the need to squeeze out every last minute of outdoor time before the cold sets in. We did a great fall hike at Cranberry Lake a few weeks ago, and last weekend we checked out Teatown Lake Reservation in Ossining. What a great place. […]

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Date Night at an Old Favorite: Saint George Bistro

November 4, 2016

Ever since we lived in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, my husband and I have been in love with the French corner bistro. Bistro du Coin on Connecticut Ave served up this creamy lemony-aioli with their steak frites, and we spent many Saturday nights in our twenties dipping fries, while concocting big plans for our […]

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November Happy List

November 2, 2016

With Halloween over, it’s time for the November blur — the whirlwind of weekends before Thanksgiving. Stop, take a deep breath and make time for the following fun day ideas. To start, treat you and your partner to a night out during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, taking place Nov. 1 to 13. This year, more […]

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What to Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

November 1, 2016
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Editor’s note: This post first ran in the past, but it was so popular we’ve brought it back as an oldie but goody! I was staring at the enormous bowl of Halloween candy we had by our front door yesterday and thinking about how I could get rid of it. You know that feeling: You […]

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